Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands, and Aquatic Systems

All living things depend on clean and sustainable sources of water.

The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and its School of Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF), have created the Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands, and Aquatic Systems, the first of its kind in the United States. This institute will be national in scope and will include several partners across the country.

The Institute will:

  • Bring together diverse partners to collectively define priority challenges.
  • Conduct key, cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research needed to anticipate, inform, or resolve priority issues and maintain healthy fisheries, wetlands and aquatic systems in Missouri, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • Ensure conservation workforce development through internships, cooperative education efforts and graduate assistance programs that guarantee the next generation of researchers, conservationists, managers and industry leaders are trained in a setting that provides real-world learning opportunities and cross-disciplinary training.
  • Develop and support public policy focusing on integrated conservation and economics of water, fish and wildlife resources, wetlands, agriculture and associated outdoor recreation.
  • Communicate knowledge gained through an array of platforms, including conferences, scientific and popular publications to convey information affection the lives and decisions of every citizen.
  • Build a pipeline of talent to help fill recurring vacancies at MDC as well as conservation agencies/organizations across the country.

This Institute will train the next generation of fisheries, wetlands and aquatic systems conservationists, environmental scientists, and researchers, and serve as a national center of research, knowledge and best management practices impacting fisheries, wildlife and aquatic systems.

Missouri, the ideal location for a fisheries institute

+ Nearly 1.4 million anglers fish in Missouri waters each year + About 1 in 10 Missourians between the ages of 16 and 64 enjoy fishing annually + Missouri anglers fish approximately 16 million days annually, account for over $1.2 billion in economic output and support 9,510 jobs + In 2019, Missouri received over $8.2 million from excise taxes appropriated though the Sportfish Restoration Act to support fisheries projects and aquatic education.

Missouri boasts:

  • An amazing variety of world-class fishing opportunities available to the average citizen, from reservoirs and streams, to rivers, lakes and ponds
  • A diverse array of aquatic systems from prairie streams to large rivers; from farm ponds to major reservoirs
  • A wide variety of landscapes in which to conduct research that has far-reaching implications
  • The University of Missouri and the US Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, both with expanding water, wetlands and fisheries expertise
Fish in hand


Our partners will include the private sector, government and NGO, campus and international institutions.


Eric W. Kurzejeski
Eric Kurzejeski
Interim Director